Dietary Supplements to Counteract the Effects of Cellular Aging and Chronic Diseases

Dr. John Lewis Ph. D.

27 July 2016

Chronic diseases, such as coronary artery and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, and obesity, are widespread all over the world today.  In addition, the risk of developing multiple chronic diseases increases with age.  Immunosenescence, or the gradual deterioration of the immune system, is a risk-factor for age-associated diseases and may offer one possible explanation.  Studies indicate that the primary drivers of cellular aging in both somatic cells and stem cells are DNA damage, free radical levels, telomere shortening, inflammation, and changes in gene expression, all of which slowly increase with advancing age.  Chronic diseases incur enormous public health costs, and poor nutrition is a key factor in their development.  Therefore, enhancing nutritional status, primarily with high-quality dietary supplements, is a well-founded strategy for addressing these concerns.

Using herbs or concentrated forms of food derivatives have been used to combat diseases and disorders and for preventative wellness in developing countries for centuries, but dietary supplement use has only recently grown in popularity in the Western world.  The global market for dietary supplements and herbal medicines is estimated to be over $60 billion USD and climbing 10-20% each year.  Thus, the smart consumer recognizes today that dietary supplements are important in an overall strategy to be healthy and prevent chronic disease.

A wide range of nutrients and phytochemicals as concentrated dietary supplements, such as resveratrol complex, L-arginine and L-citrulline, coenzyme Q10, phenolic acids, flavonoids, carotenoids, curcumin, omega-3 fatty acids, and several vitamins and minerals, have shown efficacy in humans.  For example, flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamins A, C, E, and K, N-acetyl-L-cysteine, zinc, and selenium have been found to have a wide variety of anti-inflammatory effects.  In our laboratory, we have shown the benefits of dietary supplements containing polysaccharides, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B complex, ginkgo biloba, choline, and other key nutrients.  We have noted that these nutrients are particularly effective for improving immune and cognitive functioning, decreasing inflammation, and enhancing overall quality of life.  Additionally, these nutrients are responsible for producing bioactive compounds, such as cytokines and growth factors, which conduct the biochemistry of life.  In the Golgi (an organelle) of every human cell these nutrients provide a code of information for conducting defense, repair, growth, healing, and homeostasis.  This domain is the principle site for coordinating activities for the trillions of cells that make up the human body.

This fundamental supporting biochemistry is why supplying concentrated levels of nutrients from dietary supplements results in a broad spectrum of health-supporting benefits.  Additionally, concentrated levels of nutrients in dietary supplements, compared to their levels in foods, takes advantage of the Michaelis-Menten equation, a molecular biology principle that demonstrates how a concentrated amount of nutrients allows a greater number of bioactive compounds to be created.  Thus, innate mechanisms of defense and repair coded in the genes can be boosted to be more effective against compromises in health.

In summary, high-quality dietary supplements that counteract the effects of inflammation, oxidative stress, free radical levels, inflammation, and DNA damage may target the underlying causes of cellular aging, in turn improve the nutritional and cellular status of the individual, and finally may allow the individual to avoid or prevent chronic disease.  Without proper health promotion (e.g., dietary supplementation, nutrition, and exercise), age-related chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, pulmonary conditions, and neurodegenerative disorders will continue to rise.  Efficacious dietary supplements may offer a tool to counteract the negative effects of inflammation and oxidative stress.  Enhancements in combating these predictors of cell senescence as we age could also decrease healthcare costs for the aging population in general, as quality of life and health span increase.

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